Pablo Ocampo

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Pablo de Leon Ocampo
25 January 1853 – 5 February 1925
Place of birth: Santa Cruz, Manila
Place of death: Manila
Father: Andres Ocampo
Mother: Macaria de Leon
Spouse: Juana Zamora

Pablo de Leon Ocampo (25 January 1853 – 5 February 1925) was a lawyer and a member of the Malolos Congress. He became Resident Commissioner to the United States and was one of the two first Filipino delegates to Washington.


Early life and education

Ocampo was born on 25 January 1853 in Quiapo, Manila. His father was Andres Ocampo, a gobernardorcillo of Santa Cruz, Manila in the Spanish period, while his mother was Macaria de Leon. His family was poor and he had to attend school wearing his tsinelas (slippers).

Ocampo spent his secondary school years in the Colegio de San Juan de Letran and went on to take up law at the University of Santo Tomas. He finished his degree in March 1882 and went on to practice law in Manila.


In 1888, Ocampo was appointed court reporter of Manila. The following year he was promoted to public prosecutor in the court of first instance in Tondo, and later became defensor de oficio and secretary of the Colegio de Abogados.

While he was not an active supporter of the Revolution during its first phase, Ocampo was appointed member of the Malolos Congress. He represented Prinsipe, Lepanto, Bontok, and Infanta. Eventually, he was elected secretary and member of the committee which drafted the constitution. He also taught civil law and political economy at the short-lived Universidad Cientifico-Literaria de Filipinas which was run by the revolutionary government.

When the Filipino-American war broke out in February 1899, Ocampo joined Gracio Gonzaga, Florentino Torres, Gregorio del Pilar, and Lorenzo Zialcita in the commission that met with Douglas MacArthur and Elwell S. Otis to put a stop to the hostilities. On 3 July 1899, he was appointed by Emilio Aguinaldo as sole representative of the Revolutionary government in the city of Manila and also served as head of its intelligence office. The appointment was made whil Aguinaldo and his troops were retreating to the north.

Ocampo became the editor of La Patria, a nationalist paper that was founded on 16 September 1899. The paper provided him a venue to share his nationalistic views which gained the ire of the American authorities. MacArthur issued an order to deport him to Guam on 7 January 1901. Nine days later, Ocampo saw himself being shipped on the American vessel Rosecrans along with other revolutionaries such as Apolinario Mabini, Julian Gerona, Maximo Hizon, Pio del Pilar, Mariano Llanera, and Artemio Ricarte. He lived in exile in Guam for almost two years and was only able to return to the Philippines after President William McKinley granted him amnesty. He finally took the oath of allegiance in 1902.

It was obvious that Ocampo has softened his stand on national issues after his exile. He did not support the call for immediate independence which was the stand of other Filipino politicians. Instead of joining the Partido Independista Immediatista, he joined the Union Nacionalista. In 1907, he ran for a seat in the First Philippine Assembly to represent the southern district of Manila. He, along with Benito Valdez, Rafael del Pan, and Manuel Ravago, lost to Fernando Ma. Guerrero.

On 22 November 1907, Ocampo was elected by the Assembly as the first Resident Commissioner to the United States of America. He won against Rafael del Pan, Justo Lukban, Jaime C. de Veyra, and Alberto Barretto. He and Benito Legarda, who was elected to the same position by the Philippine Commission, sailed for Washington on 21 December 1907. The two became the first Filipino Resident Commissioners to be seated in the United States Congress. This time, Ocampo advocated immediate independence as it was the stand of the dominant political party in the Philippines.

As resident commissioner, Ocampo held that it was not for the United States to judge whether or not Filipinos were ready to run the government. He was convinced that independence would motivate Filipinos to strengthen the government and improve the country’s economy.

Ocampo strongly opposed the Payne Tariff Bill which allowed limitless entry of American products into the Philippines, while Philippine products such as sugar and tobacco going to the U.S. fell under import restrictions.

Ocampo was a part of the American delegation sent to the 15th Interparliamentary Union conference held in Berlin, Germany on 17-19 September 1908.

In 1909 after two years in Washington, D.C., Ocampo ran for a seat in the 2nd Philippine Legislature and won. As a legislator, he opposed the passage of the Negotiable Instruments Law. He was a member of the committees on appropriations, metropolitan relations, and the committee for the city of Manila. On four occasions, he served as head of committee of the whole house.

After his term, Ocampo retired from politics and busied himself in real estate and other businesses.

Family and death

Ocampo married Juana Zamora on 5 September 1885. The couple had twelve children but only six reached adulthood: Concepcion, Jesus, Pedro, Mariano, Rosario, and Pacita.

Ocampo died of pulmonary disease on 5 February 1925 at the age of seventy-two. His remains lie at the La Loma Cemetery.

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